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The origin of Japan's martial art Judo is vague, and what we know of it is more legend than truth. However, the takenouchi-ryu martial art system founded in 1532 is considered the beginning of Japan's jujitsu forms.For the next several hundred years, the martial arts were refined by Samurai who made a lifetime study of some twenty or thirty martial arts. Of these arts only one was based on weaponless self defense -jujitsu. By the mid-1800's more than 700 different jujitsu systems existed.

In 1868 Imperial rule was restored (Meiji Restoration) and the decline of the Samurai class started along with a rapid decline in all martial arts. Jujitsu literally fell into disuse. Dr. Jigoro Kano is credited with jujitsu's survival of the Meiji Restoration. He took jujitsu and adapted it to the times. His new methodology was called Judo.Judo (meaning "gentle way") is a modern martial art, combat and Olympic sport created in Japan in 1882.Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the objective is to either throw or takedown an opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue an opponent with a pin, or force an opponent to submit with a joint lock or a choke. Strikes and thrusts by hands and feet as well as weapons defenses are a part of judo, but only in pre-arranged forms (kata) and are not allowed in judo competition or free practice (randori). Judo practitioners are called judoka.

There have been two main developments in Judo over the years. The first was the introduction of weight categories. Initially there were three categories, and later this was made into five. Inclusion of the sport in the Olympic Games in 1964 helped to hasten this important reform. The second development was the teaching of Judo to children. There are different styles of Judo. With its inclusion in the Olympics, there has been a shift toward a contest style practice.